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One With Tagore: Sarah Cutler '03 Performs November 3

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Nota Bene

October 26, 2001

One With Tagore: Sarah Cutler '03 Performs November 3

Sarah Cutler í03 had never heard of Rabindranath Tagore when she enrolled in a class called Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore: Nonviolence, the Nation, and the World last spring, but his writing "resonated" with her right away. Taught by Asian studies professor Indira Peterson, the course focused on the impact of Gandhi and Tagoreís thoughts on activism all over the world. Cutler was drawn to "Tagoreís poetry, mystical spirit, philosophy that everyone is artistic, and feeling that one shouldnít play by the book rules when it comes to education," she said. Cutler also took the courseís lessons about activism to heart. "I told Professor Peterson that I didnít want to write a paper about Tagore. I wanted to be like Tagore," she said.

With Petersonís encouragement, Cutler removed herself from her computer keyboard and switched to the pianoís, immersed herself in Tagoreís writing, and created "The Living Logic of Creation: A Celebration of Rabindranath Tagore, Poet, Mystic, and Visionary of Peace." In the multiarts piece, Cutler performs her original music on the viola and piano, reads her poetry inspired by Tagore, and dances. She will perform an expanded version of the original creative project on Saturday November 3, at 3 pm in Pratt Hallís McCulloch Auditorium.

The original inspiration for the piece came from the following passage from Sadhana, a book by Tagore: "The meaning of the living words that come out of the experience of great hearts can never be exhausted by any one system of logical interpretation. They have to be endlessly explained by the commentaries of individual lives, and they gain an added mystery in each new revelation." Tagore (1861Ė1941), acclaimed as Indiaís preeminent poet, won the Nobel Prize for poetry in 1913, the same year he wrote the words that so inspired Cutler. In addition to collections of poems in the Bengali language, he composed hundreds of lyrical songs and set them to music. These songs are still sung in Bengal and all over India. Founder of Visvabharati, Indiaís first international university, Tagore spent much of his life working for peace and international understanding. His world tours included a visit and poetry reading at Mount Holyoke in 1930.

Cutler describes the creation of her project as an organic reaction of music, movement, and poetry to Tagoreís work. "I would read his poetry and then sit down at the piano, which I donít play, and the music would pour forth. Then I would feel the need to move, and the dance portion became a part of the project." Cutler originally performed her piece for a small audience of faculty and students. Peterson was "so excited by it" that she encouraged her student to share the project with a wider audience.

Of her upcoming performance Cutler says, "Tagore was a mystic, poet, artist, and deep believer in the connections between peoples. I offer my response to his creative energies as a chance to spread beauty, understanding, and peace in the world." Through her performance, Cutler hopes to raise funds for the World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations organization that provides food aid to people in areas affected by war, natural disaster, and other hardships. "The group is really stepping up its program in Afghanistan, and Iím hoping to earmark any funds I raise to this cause," Cutler says. "I chose the WFP for a number of reasons. It is well established and does good work, and it is a global unifying organization, an orientation that reminded me of Tagoreís interest in the wisdom that comes from exploring and experiencing other cultures." For more information about the World Food Organization visit

Not unlike those of the man she so admires, Cutlerís talents span many disciplines, and she is deeply spiritual. In addition to playing the viola with the MHC orchestra, she sings with the Five College group Voces Feminae; is a writing mentor for the Weissman Centerís Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program; and serves on the Collegeís Mulitfaith Council and Protestant Council of Deacons. Her spare time is devoted to writing poetry, creating art, and dancing. The biological sciences major, who is pursuing an interdisciplinary minor in conceptual foundations in science, aspires to be a high school biology teacher.

Says Peterson, "Sarah is engaged in sadhana. In Sanskrit and Bengali, the word connotes undertaking creative practice in the arts or in a religious path, with the goal of realizing the selfís full spiritual potential (self-realization). I think Tagore would have approved."

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Copyright © 2001 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Don St. John and maintained by Jennifer Adams. Last modified on November 8, 2001.

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